How to Start Exercising and Get Healthy When You Hate It: Embracing Small Life-Changing Habits for Life

In a world obsessed with quick fixes and extreme measures, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a radical diet overhaul or an intense workout regimen is the only way to achieve a healthier lifestyle. However, there's a more effective and sustainable approach that doesn't involve depriving yourself or subjecting your body to grueling routines. By focusing on small, life-changing habits and making exercise enjoyable, you can gradually transform your relationship with fitness and health.


In a world obsessed with quick fixes and extreme measures, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a radical diet overhaul or an intense workout regimen is the only way to achieve a healthier lifestyle. However, there's a more effective and sustainable approach that doesn't involve depriving yourself or subjecting your body to grueling routines. By focusing on small, life-changing habits and making exercise enjoyable, you can gradually transform your relationship with fitness and health.

Remember, exercise because you love your body not because you hate it..

Why Having a Metabolism is Better Than Dieting

Photo: Jenny Hill

A. Energy Production:

At the core of our vitality lies the intricate dance of metabolic processes within our bodies. Metabolism, encompassing the basal metabolic rate (BMR), acts as our internal power plant, diligently converting the calories we consume into the life-sustaining energy needed for fundamental physiological functions.

Metabolic Rate: Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that occur within the body to convert food into energy. Having a metabolism ensures that your body can efficiently convert the calories from food into the energy needed for various physiological functions, such as breathing, circulation, and maintaining body temperature.

Sustained Energy Levels: Dieting alone may result in reduced calorie intake, potentially leading to fatigue and lethargy. A well-functioning metabolism helps in utilizing nutrients effectively, providing a steady and sustained supply of energy throughout the day.

B. Nutrient Utilization:

Photo: Dose Juice

Metabolism is not merely a calorie-burning mechanism; it's the guardian of our body's nutrient treasury. Beyond its role in energy production, metabolism is the orchestrator of vital functions, overseeing the breakdown of nutrients into components that fuel growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues.

Vital Functions: Metabolism ensures the efficient absorption and utilization of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Without this metabolic efficiency, even a nutrient-rich diet might fall short in nourishing our bodies, underscoring the critical role metabolism plays in sustaining our health at a foundational level.

Nutrient Absorption: A healthy metabolism ensures that the body efficiently absorbs and utilizes essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, which are crucial for various biochemical reactions. Without a properly functioning metabolism, the body may struggle to extract and use nutrients efficiently, even if they are present in the diet.

C. Weight Management and Body Composition:

Photo: April Laugh

In the pursuit of a healthier physique, understanding the role of metabolism is paramount. It's not just about shedding pounds; it's about cultivating a balance that endures. Crash diets, with their allure of quick fixes, often neglect the importance of metabolic health, potentially leading to the undesirable consequence of muscle loss instead of targeted fat reduction.

Fat Burning: A well-regulated metabolism contributes to the body's ability to burn calories and utilize stored fat for energy. It helps in maintaining a healthy body weight and body composition. Crash dieting or extreme calorie restriction without considering metabolic health may lead to muscle loss rather than fat loss.

Long-Term Weight Maintenance: Focusing on a healthy metabolism rather than quick-fix diets promotes sustainable weight management. Establishing lifestyle habits that support metabolic health, such as regular physical activity and balanced nutrition, contributes to maintaining a healthy weight over the long term.

Understanding the Importance of Creating Habits

Photo: Yoav Aziz

As the saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day." The same applies to your health journey. When we want to create habits, it's important to think long-term instead of short-term fixes. Dieting is not going to last long term, which is why 95% of diets fail! Know why? Because you can only restrict yourself and rely on only disclipline for so long, punishing yourself and trying to get short-term results.

Sooner or later, you're going to get resentful, create resistance, and probably give it up and go back to what made you feel better.

That's not what we're going for here. We're looking for long term healthy solutions that include healthy eating and building up a metabolism, not losing weight.

“Most people fail, not because of lack of desire, but, because of lack of commitment.” –Vince Lombardi

Instead of overwhelming yourself with numerous changes all at once, start by implementing one change at a time. Whether it's incorporating a simple 20-minute exercise routine into your day or swapping that afternoon soda for a glass of water, these incremental changes are more likely to stick in the long run.

By approaching exercise and diet as habits rather than short-term fixes, you're setting the foundation for a healthier and happier you.

Don't Overdo It: Start Slow and Enjoyable

Photo: Dave Goudreau

One of the most common reasons people give up on exercise is the misconception that they need to push themselves to the limit from day one. This couldn't be further from the truth. Overdoing it can lead to burnout, injury, and ultimately, quitting.

That used to be me, I would force myself to run occasionally at 6 am. Know what? I hate running by itself. I played soccer many years and I love running while I'm doing something I enjoy. Many of my friends are avid runners and LOVE it, I mean love early morning running, which is amazing, but it took me forever to realize it was just NOT for me. And that's OK.

Instead, focus on finding an exercise activity that aligns with your personal preferences and interests. For me? That was swimming, cycling, and later when I tore my knee, the gym.

I realized that the best time for me to exercise was AFTER work since I was always super stressed about the day. The stress release swimming was incredible and I would feel immediately calmer, more focused, and re-vitalized after only 20 minutes. The more I went, the more I loved how I felt. I started going every day almost after work and it changed my health and my life.

Now? I LOVE exercise and feel crappy when I do it.

So if I can create a habit, you can too. But get honest, what do you LIKE doing or NOT mind doing?

Do you enjoy the outdoors? Try walking, jogging, running, or cycling.

Love dancing? Sign up for a dance class.

Like being social? Choose Pilates class at your gym or maybe a group activity

By choosing an activity you genuinely enjoy, you're more likely to look forward to it and stick with it over time.

I have a thicker yoga mat in my bedroom that I use every morning to do a 10-minute yoga stretching video and also for shorter exercises.

I like Yoga with Adriene, Yoga with Kassandra, and Yoga with Bird. I switch off between those three and occasionally try others but those are my favorites I've been using for years.

Finding the Right Time to Exercise

Photo: kike vega

There's a prevailing notion that working out in the morning is the ultimate key to success. And UNLIKE other coaches, I am NOT going to tell you to wake up at 5 and go jogging if you hate waking up early and you hate jogging, it's going to be MUCH harder to create a HABIT out of two things you already hate.

While it might work for some, it's not a universal truth. The truth is, the best time to exercise is the time that suits your body's natural rhythms and your daily schedule.

If you're not a morning person, forcing yourself to wake up early for a workout can lead to resistance and eventually giving up. Why? Because you don't Instead, identify when you have the most energy and motivation, whether it's during lunch breaks or after work.

Integrating exercise into your existing routine makes it easier to commit to and removes unnecessary barriers. Find an activity that you already like. Find a way to do that at least a few times a week. Build on your positive habits but start easy on yourself.

Consistency is Key

The real secret to making exercise a sustainable habit is consistency. It's not about working out intensely a few times a month, but rather about consistently engaging in physical activity throughout the week. Aim to create a workout schedule that's achievable and realistic. If you set your sights too high, you might find yourself falling short and feeling discouraged. Consistency, even in small amounts, is far more effective in improving your metabolism and overall fitness over time.

The important thing here is consistency and NOT severity. Many people start too severe, hate it, abandon it, then feel guilty and beat themselves up about it and shame themselves. Now, they're not feeling good enough and so they might indulge in other unhealthy habits. I get it! So the point is to keep yourself motivated with love, support, kindness, and compassion for yourself.

You're not PUNISHING yourself into motivation, you're LOVING yourself enough to.

The Power of Nutrition

Photo: K8

Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand when it comes to achieving your health goals. While we're not advocating for strict diets, making small changes to your eating habits can complement your exercise routine.

Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your meals not only provides essential nutrients but also helps you feel more satisfied and energized. Additionally, don't underestimate the importance of hydration. Drinking water throughout the day supports your body's functions and can even help curb unnecessary snacking.

Since I'm not a nutritionist, I'm going to defer this one over to the experts but there are so many amazing tips online to cook better in a healthy way! 

Check out these healthy eating blogs:

Great list from You Aligned here.

Great list from Stitch and Salt here.

Great list from Brit and Co here.

Great list from Clean Eating Kitchen.

Building a Supportive Environment

Embarking on a fitness journey can be challenging, especially if you're going at it alone. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who share similar health goals can provide the motivation and encouragement you need to stay on track. Join fitness classes, online communities, or recruit a workout buddy. Having a support system can make exercise more enjoyable and increase your chances of sticking with it.

Celebrating Small Victories

Photo: Helena Lopes

Every step you take toward a healthier lifestyle is a victory, no matter how small it may seem. Whether you manage to maintain your routine for a week or successfully complete a new exercise class, celebrate these achievements.

Acknowledging your progress not only boosts your self-confidence but also reinforces the idea that your efforts are paying off.

“The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Overcoming Setbacks and Obstacles

Photo: Brett Jordan

It's important to recognize that progress isn't always linear. Setbacks are a natural part of any journey, and they don't define your overall success.

If you miss a workout or have a less-than-healthy meal, don't let it discourage you. Instead, view setbacks as learning opportunities.

Identify what led to the setback and develop strategies to overcome similar challenges in the future. Remember, the road to health is a marathon, not a sprint.


Starting an exercise routine when you're not a fan of physical activity might seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, by embracing small, life-changing habits and cultivating a positive mindset, you can transform your health journey into an enjoyable and successful one. Ditch the extreme diets and grueling workouts in favor of sustainable changes that align with your preferences and lifestyle. With patience, determination, and a focus on making exercise a habit, you'll not only improve your physical health but also cultivate a more positive relationship with fitness for the long term. So take that first step, and remember that every small change is a step closer to a healthier and more vibrant you.

ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany

I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK  and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).

If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.

Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.

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